West Texas A&M University

Buff Transit Tracker
Information Technology Buffalo Roaming FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How does wireless networking work?
2. What are the benefits of wireless access?
3. What type of wireless network is installed at WTAMU?
4. What is IEEE, and what does 802.11b/g mean?
5. How do I connect to the wireless network?
6. Which buildings have wireless access?
7. Will I be able to use the wireless network from outside the designated buildings?
8. What can I access over the wireless network?
9. What kind of wireless network card will I need for my laptop?
10. Where can I purchase a wireless network card?
11. What kind of software will I need for my laptop?
12. Will the wireless network replace the wired network?
13. Is wireless networking secure?
14. Will the signal travel through walls?
15. What kind of range does an AP get?
16. Does Buffalo Roaming use Bluetooth?
17. Will other devices cause interference?
18. Are there health implications?
19. Can Buffalo Roaming interfere with cell phones?
20. How does the wireless Ethernet card affect my laptop's battery?
21. Where do I go if I have trouble using Buffalo Roaming?

1. How does wireless networking work?

Wireless networking works very similar to a cordless telephone, where the phone base broadcasts a signal to the handset and then sends the handset’s responses through the telephone cord plugged into a wall jack. In wireless networking, a device called an Access Point (AP), which is hard wired to a computer network itself, broadcasts a signal to the surrounding area. Any device that is equipped with a wireless networking card can receive that signal and communicate with the AP, and through it, with the rest of the network.

2. What are the benefits of wireless access?

For end users, the freedom of mobility—users can easily move their devices around within an area served by an AP (for example, carrying a laptop from a desk to a nearby table), or from one such area to another (for example, from a classroom to a study lounge), without having to unplug and re-plug networking wires.


3. What type of wireless network is installed at WTAMU?

The wireless network at WTAMU is Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity), using IEEE standards 802.11b and 802.11g.

4. What is IEEE, and what does 802.11b/g mean?
IEEE is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a standards body that promotes design specifications to ensure compatibility between different manufacturers' products. 802.11b/g is simply the designation for the particular kind of wireless networking technology chosen for Buffalo Roaming.

5. How do I connect to the wireless network?
There are detailed instructions for connecting to the wireless network available online and at The First United Bank Center (FUBC), the Jack B. Kelley Student Center (JBK), the Hastings Electronic Learning Center (HELC), and the Cornette Library.

6. Which buildings have wireless access?

The First United Bank Center (FUBC), the Jack B. Kelley Student Center (JBK), the Hastings Electronic Learning Center (HELC), and the Cornette Library have access to the wireless network.

7. Will I be able to use the wireless network from outside of the designated buildings?


While not guaranteed, it may be possible to use the network from outside the buildings with wireless, but it will depend on your proximity to the buildings and your computer’s wireless network card reception capabilities.

8. What can I access over the wireless network?

Users will currently be able to access the Internet from the wireless network. This includes all WTAMU web sites, such as Student Email, Buff Advisor, and WTOnline.

9. What kind of wireless network card will I need for my laptop?

Most laptop computers purchased in the last year already have a wireless network card that should be able to access the wireless network. There is a list of tested wireless cards that can be found here for guest access and here for student access. Also check the certified product listing at the Wi-Fi Alliance web site, www.wifi.org, to see if your wireless network card is compatible with the 802.11b/g standard.

10. Where can I purchase a wireless network card?


802.11b/g cards are available from several vendors, and currently cost between $40 and $150. Major electronics and office-supply stores like Best Buy, Staples, Circuit City, and Wal-Mart frequently carry wireless cards. Faculty and Staff will need a Cisco Aironet card purchased from the Division of Information Technology if they wish to join Buffalo Roaming with Faculty/Staff access. The price will be $120 and must be paid via Interdepartmental requisition. Please contact the IT Service Center at 4357 or itsc@mail.wtamu.edu about acquiring a Cisco Aironet card.

11. What kind of software will I need for my laptop?

The only software you will need will be your computer’s operating system. The Student wireless network will only support Microsoft Windows XP and Mac OS X 10.3 and higher.

12. Will the wireless network replace the wired network?


The wireless network will not be a replacement for the wired network. Its purpose is to provide university students,faculty and staff access to the Internet via mobile devices such as laptops and PDAs.
13. Is wireless networking secure?

Because wireless network signals travel through the air just like signals used by cordless phones, radios, and other wireless devices, anybody within range can intercept that signal—and potentially view the data being sent back and forth by your computer. In an attempt to protect wireless users from these types of attacks, the technology’s designers created an encryption process for it called Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). When WEP is activated, data sent over the network is encrypted and other users are unable to see in plain text what you are doing. However, due to a design flaw, WEP is easily compromised. An attacker can break the WEP encryption and still view your data by using some readily available programs.

Recently, the WEP extension to the 802.11 standard was re-evaluated and an update to it, known as Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), was ratified. To overcome the weaknesses of WEP, WPA uses stronger encryption keys and also has an accompanying key management system. This key management system is called the Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) and it ensures that no two similar encryption keys are used in close enough proximity (time-wise) to give a would-be attacker enough data to crack the encryption.

By using WPA in conjunction with 802.1x (a port-based authentication system), wireless networks can now provide an even more secure connection than a wired connection can. This is the result of not only providing encryption once associated to the wireless network, but requiring users to be properly authenticated before being allowed to associate in the first place. This combination ensures that data transfers over the wireless medium are secure and that only authorized users are allowed onto the network. (Guest Access is not secure.)

14. Will the signal travel through walls?

Yes. Buffalo Roaming uses radio waves, which can pass through walls. It can also travel around corners.

15. What kind of range does an AP get?


Typical indoor range for an AP will be from 50 to 100 feet, but this is dependant on many factors. In most situations, surrounding structural elements will decrease an AP’s effective range—intervening walls, floors, or ceilings between an AP and a user will generally dampen the signal, for example. If you are attempting to use a wireless connection in an area where signal strength is weak, moving your device just a few feet may improve your reception dramatically.

16. Does Buffalo Roaming use Bluetooth?

No. Bluetooth is a 1Mbps (Megabits per second) standard for connecting small devices in close proximity, like connecting a laptop computer to a cell phone. Buffalo Roaming uses IEEE 802.11b/g.

17. Will other devices cause interference?

Yes. Other devices that operate in the 2.4GHz band including microwave ovens and 2.4GHz cordless phones may cause interference with Buffalo Roaming.

18. Are there health implications?

There is no conclusive evidence that 2.4GHz radio waves relate to any health risk. These products operate at very low power, 100mW when transmitting (less than 1/1000 the power level of a Microwave oven). While operating at the same frequency, these devices don't use the same amount of power.

19. Can Buffalo Roaming interfere with Cell phones?

No. Cellular phones operate in frequencies other than 2.4GHz.

20. How does the wireless Ethernet card affect my laptop's battery?
Like any electronic component, the Ethernet card will drain power from your battery. They should have less than a 10% impact on battery life. The average current required to be able to receive packets using PSP (Power Save Protocol) is less than 60 mA (about 25% of the power consumption of a 10/100 PC Card).

21. Where do I go if I have trouble using Buffalo Roaming?


First, consult the Buffalo Roaming web site http://www.wtamu.edu/buffaloroaming which provides installation instructions for the three different Buffalo Roaming Accounts (Student, Faculty/Staff, and Guest). Contact the IT Service Center at 651-4357 or itsc@mail.wtamu.edu if you are having difficulty understanding the directions.